The Science of Beer
- Major: Microbiology
- Class Of: 2015
“ It feels wonderful to combine my knowledge of science and love of beer to improve this really unique program. ”
Before Cal Poly Pomona alumna Taylor Lane became a beer quality control specialist consultant at Innovation Brew Works, and before she was hired as an instructor for the brewing program at the College of the Extended University (CEU), she was on her way to become a veterinarian.
During her undergraduate studies at UC Santa Barbara, Lane worked with ill animals, but she soon realized that the bugs that caused the infections were what fascinated her the most. Thus, she switched her emphasis from veterinary science to microbiology.
After she graduated with her bachelor’s in 2012, she pursued her master’s in biological sciences with an emphasis in microbiology at Cal Poly Pomona. During her time on campus, Lane worked with professor Christos Stathopoulos in his research lab and served as a teaching associate for the biology department.
So, how did Lane get into the brewing industry?
“I took the beer and culture class up at The Collins College of Hospitality Management with Cezar Osuna, who is now the lab tech at Innovation Brew Works,” says Lane. “That’s when I realized this was a career option for a microbiologist.”
Since graduating with her master’s in 2015, Lane has been working as a quality assurance technician at Ritual Brewing Co. in Redlands, which is co-owned by Owen Williams, a former professor at The Collins College who helped open Innovation Brew Works.
After Lane implemented a quality control program at Ritual, Aaron Neilson, director of dining services, reached out to her and asked her to develop a similar program for Innovation Brew Works.
“Now we have a process that starts at yeast health, follows through to the brew itself, all the way through fermentation to the finished product,” says Lane. “We want to make sure that the yeast is as healthy as possible for every batch, and it is now being monitored weeks before we even start the brew. We are also tracking fermentation to make sure that the yeast is fermenting as efficiently as possible.”
Since Lane and the Innovation Brew Works crew are collecting information on the rate of fermentation, they are able to optimize fermentation time and increase the number of brews they produce.
Lane’s program ensures that every batch is identical. This includes collecting data on the alcohol by volume (ABV), using the system that specifies the standard color of finished beer and malt (standard reference method), and controlling the international bitterness unit (IBU) that measures the parts per million of isohumulone, the acid found in hops that gives beer its sharp flavor.
“This really brings accountability to the brew house. If a batch is inconsistent or out of specification for any reason, we can now pinpoint the problem and correct the issue,” says Lane. “Our goal is to make sure that we are making a consistent brand that is up to our standards of quality.”
With the fall 2017 launch of the Cellarman Certification program at Cal Poly Pomona’s College of Extended Education, Lane will teach a class called “The Science of Beer,” in the fall and spring quarters.
In this course, Lane will teach her students the biological and chemical processes of brewing, quality control, and advanced beer production. She will give lectures, but the course will primarily take place in Innovation Brew Works for hands-on learning.
Lane will also teach a class that focuses on the biochemistry and molecular biology of yeast and yeast health. Since it is a specialized course, it will only be offered once a year during winter quarter.
“It feels great!” says Lane when she thinks about working at her alma mater. “It feels wonderful to combine my knowledge of science and love of beer to improve this really unique program.”
To learn more about the brewing program at CEU, visit www.cpp.edu/ceu.
To learn more about Innovation Brew Works, visit www.ibrewworks.com.